State Prosecutor Moshe Lador rejected yesterday the claims by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his demand for an apology for statements made in an interview to Haaretz Magazine last week. In the interview, Lador described the $75,000 "loan" Olmert received from his American businessman friend Joe Elmaliach 18 years ago "scandalous." Lador also told Haaretz correspondent Gidi Weitz that the loan was never repaid.
"The claim of your client about the repayment of the said sum recently, many years after it was received and following indictments," wrote attorney Orit Sonn, deputy state prosecutor for civil affairs, to Olmert's lawyers yesterday, "is an entirely peripheral circumstance to the problematic matter of receiving money from a businessman and its use for private purposes all these years by a public figure, without explanation besides saying it was a loan ... This is so without even having to comment on the facts in the indictment about a further $100,000 that were transferred by the same person to the private account of your client, and which he intentionally avoided reporting to the state comptroller."
Following the publication, Olmert's lawyers sent a letter to Lador and to Haaretz, in which they claimed that Lador's statements to Haaretz Magazine seriously harm the good name of Olmert because the loan from Elmaliach was returned in full in early July last year, and that this was reported to both the state comptroller and the court.
Olmert's lawyers demanded an apology on his behalf and compensation that would be donated to a "public cause."
In her letter yesterday Sonn added that there is no dispute that the "loan" from Elmaliach was not returned until Olmert was indicted in 2009, more than 16 years after Olmert received the money. The deputy state prosecutor wrote that in the interview Lador described the acceptance of the money from Elmaliach as "scandalous," and that "by this he expressed his view about the public aspect of the transfer of undocumented and significant amounts of money, from a businessman to a person with a public function, who kept the money for years."
Amir Dan, Olmert's media adviser, said in response that "our letter to the state prosecutor was clear and if no apology is forthcoming, we will sue for libel in the coming days."
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